China Wednesday called the ongoing standoff in Sikkim “very serious” and claimed the Indian government was “misleading” the public about Chinese road construction near the Siliguri corridor in the Sikkim sector. A state-run newspaper asked China to “this time, teach India a bitter lesson”. The government has asked India to pull back troops from the region to “avoid worsening the situation”.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also reiterated that India had disregarded the 1890 Sino-British Treaty, which China has cited to prove the Doklam region, referred to as Donglong in China, is sovereign Chinese territory. The Chinese ministry has used photographs, maps and letters and communication between India and China in the 1950s and 1960s to underscore that Doklam belongs to China.
“And as we all know, China, India and Myanmar in the 1950s jointly proposed five principles of peaceful coexistence (the Panchsheel Pact). However, to everyone’s surprise, the Indian side has trampled on the basic norms of international relations that were proposed by itself by illegally crossing into other’s territory,” ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said. Geng also said India’s actions had “stunned” the international community. “If the Indian side does not correct its errors in a timely manner, how will it win the trust of neighbouring countries? How will it play a greater role in international affairs?” he asked.
“In disregard of the 1890 Sino-British Treaty, the Indian side has said Doklam is located within the tri-junction of the three countries, that is misleading the public,” Geng added. While China claims the road building is on sovereign Chinese territory, Bhutan has opposed the statement and said the ownership of Doklam is yet to be decided. The Indian government, too, has contested the 1890 treaty and has claimed action to unilaterally determine tri-junction points is in violation of a 2012 India-China agreement. According to the agreement, the boundary is to be decided by consulting all the parties concerned. The Chinese foreign affairs ministry also said that it was considering options to issue advisories to citizens visiting India. “In accordance with the security condition of the relevant country, we will decide whether or not issue a travel alert,” Geng said.